The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) today publishes its Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and most authoritative private sector business survey.
BCC responds to the Chancellor’s Summer Statement
Commenting on the Chancellor’s Summer Statement, delivered today, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:
"Businesses will celebrate many of the Chancellor’s announcements today, although it is likely that the scale of the stimulus needed to help the UK economy restart, rebuild and renew will need to be greater still over the coming months.
“Targeted measures to help young people gain work experience and enter the labour market at this challenging time are welcome, and, so too is the focus on a greener recovery and the acceleration of key infrastructure projects. The VAT cut will help firms in the hospitality and tourism sectors working hard to restart after many months of lost revenue.
"Over the coming weeks the Chancellor will also need to address the ticking clock on a number of other key concerns - including the impending end of key business loan schemes, and the unanswered question around what support will be offered to businesses and communities that face local lockdowns."
On the temporary VAT cut from 20% to 5% in the hospitality and tourism sectors, BCC Head of Economics Suren Thiru said:
“The Chancellor has listened to our call for a temporary cut in VAT which will kickstart consumer spending in some parts of the economy. This is a welcome step and will help to stimulate a more rapid pickup in activity in those sectors and supply chains hardest hit as the economy gradually reopens.
On ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ vouchers, BCC Head of Economics Suren Thiru said:
“While the Chancellor has listened to our call for a voucher scheme to incentivise consumer activity, the scale and scope of this scheme must be much bolder to make a material difference.”
On the Job Retention Bonus, BCC Head of People Policy Jane Gratton said:
“We look forward to seeing the detail of the job retention bonus to help safeguard jobs for some furloughed staff, but the best way to protect jobs is to reduce the overall cost of employment. Ministers must consider a cut in employer national insurance contributions in the coming months.
On the Apprenticeship Recovery Package, BCC Head of People Policy Jane Gratton said:
“The Chancellor has listened to our calls for a wage subsidy to help employers create high quality apprenticeships for young people entering the workforce in a difficult year.
“More should be done to support employers, including allowing apprentices to undertake much of the off the job training upfront to give employers more time to recover and ensure apprentices are better prepared to enter the workplace.
“We still need to see greater flexibility in the apprenticeship levy so that employers can help their people get the skills they need to succeed in an evolving workplace.”
On measures still needed, BCC Co-Executive Director Hannah Essex said:
“In the coming weeks the Government needs to consider taking further bold steps in response to this crisis.
“BCC's research shows investment intentions have been hit hard during the pandemic, and so the Government should be preparing new incentives for business investment in the UK, including extending the £1 million Annual Investment Allowance for a further two years and broadening its scope to include training, the transition to net zero and spending on making workplaces Covid-secure.
“Businesses face cliff-edges in the autumn as existing support winds down, and so the Government must consider reducing national insurance contributions and extending existing loan schemes.
“Many businesses are concerned about how they will survive in the event of a local lockdown, and we ask the Government to urgently set out what support will be available if that happens.”